One of my teachers when I was about 8 or 9 years old made us write short stories. Truthfully, I didn't like her, and I wasn't happy about it, but I didn't have much of a choice. She gave me a prompt about how a cow got its spots. It was about a “ranbow spotted babby cow.” I could not spell for shit, and it was not my finest work.
But it sparked something, and I started writing short stories, even on my own. They were usually about hauntings or mysteries. That was the start of my writing. No one told me that I couldn’t. No one told me I needed to read as a prerequisite. I always loved making up characters and stories and imagining other lives, and that gave me something to do with it.
I didn’t start reading for another 3 or 4 years, though. It was Harry Potter. Of course. The first time I tried it, I was massively confused by the first chapter because it wasn’t in the movies, so I “lost” the book in a box somewhere. I found it again a while later. I was twelve. Once I got through that first chapter, I was hooked. Since I’d seen and loved the movies that had come out so far, I knew what it all looked like, sounded like… That made it a lot easier.
I read twenty-something books that year. At that point, only the first two Potter movies were out. I wanted to watch the movies first, because I knew the books would ruin the movies, but the movies
would never ruin the books. That year, Prisoner of Azkaban came out, I watched it, read it, and then...I was stuck. I needed more!
So, I did the logical thing: At age 13, I started writing a book. It ended up 30,000 words. A tiny novel. It was part of a trilogy. I’d put a lot of effort in, and that was when I knew I had to do something with it—that I had to become an author. All because I was waiting, and I wanted to live in another story like I had in Harry Potter.
Hey, whatever gets you going.
Sometimes, I feel like an imposter. I wasn’t one of those kids—I didn’t live in books until I was 12. Why should I get to write when I didn’t always love to read? When I don’t read every day? There were many years of my life where I would happily say that I hated reading. Now here I am. I get funny looks when I say that I hated reading, and yet, now I’m a writer. I still fall out of reading and will read only a book or two in a year. Other times, I’ll read several in a week. But even so, I’m still writing books, and I love to read when I do. I just didn’t grow up with the habit, but I know what I am, no matter how I came to be.
Does that make me any less of a writer? No, it doesn’t. You don’t have to fit the standard to be something. You just have to be it. It doesn’t matter if you find your passion at 4 or 44 or if you spent years obsessed or 6 months. You’re not an imposter. You’re not any less. All that matters is that you’re doing it, whatever it is. That’s the only difference between those that are and those that are not.
So, what are you?